2010 Acura TSX Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 28, 2009

The new 2010 Acura TSX offers more features than most entry-luxury sedans, and the V-6 cures its previous lack of power.

To put together this review on the new 2010 Acura TSX, the experts at TheCarConnection.com drew on a broad range of reviews and added their own firsthand information wherever possible to assure the best accuracy and depth.

The TSX is a sporty front-wheel-drive compact sedan based loosely on the European-spec Honda Accord. The Acura TSX was completely redesigned for 2009, but carries over to 2010 largely unchanged apart from the addition of a new V-6 engine. On sale now, the car starts from $29,310 in base form and ranges up to a starting price of $37,950 for the V-6 with Technology Package.

Acura offers no visual redesign for the 2010 model year following a complete update in 2009. The aggressive front end, crisp-edged flanks, and generally modern, high-tech look of the TSX will likely please younger professionals, though more mature buyers may wonder what the fuss is about. Overall, however, the TSX presents a clean, conservative look that many reviewers like. Inside, much of the same can be said, especially once the TSX is outfitted with the electronics-heavy Technology Package. The basic styling elements are attractive and contemporary, with flowing, swoopy curves executed in pleasing materials and colors.

Standard power for the 2010 TSX comes from a 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; the standard six-speed manual transmission definitely makes the car feel livelier, even though midrange torque has been boosted to make it more responsive with the paddle-shifted Sequential SportShift five-speed automatic transmission. All new for 2010 is a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine option that delivers one of the few things the TSX previously lacked: power. Handling is still nimble and sporting, with a firm yet absorbent ride.

Review continues below

Comfort and quality of the TSX aren't quite top-notch but are right on par for the mid-size luxury sedan segment. Materials quality is high, and fit and finish can hardly be quibbled with, though rear legroom and seat comfort are frequent points of complaint. Even the front seats can prove too firm for some people. Cargo space, on the other hand, is good, with an ample trunk and plenty of in-cabin pockets and compartments.

Entry-level luxury cars often skimp on standard convenience features or don't offer the top-technology options, but the 2010 Acura TSX is an exception to the rule, especially when the optional Technology Package is selected. Standard features include dual-zone climate control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a premium 7-speaker sound system with subwoofer and XM Satellite Radio capability. The optional navigation system offers real-time traffic and dynamic rerouting capability to direct you around hazards and congestion when possible. A 10-speaker, 415-watt sound system is also available along with a six-disc CD changer in the Technology Package.

The 2010 Acura TSX comes with all the safety equipment of its peers, including front side airbags, side curtain airbags, vehicle stability assist, active head restraints, and three-point seat belts for all five seating positions. Though the 2010 TSX hasn't yet been tested by the IIHS, the essentially identical 2009 TSX earned a Top Safety Pick according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and five-star ratings in every category from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

8

2010 Acura TSX

Styling

The 2010 Acura TSX is attractive inside and out, though like any entry-luxury sedan, it does have its low points.

Acura offers no visual redesign for the 2010 model year following a complete update in 2009. The aggressive front end, crisp-edged flanks, and generally modern, high-tech look of the TSX will likely please younger professionals, though more mature buyers may find themselves wondering what the fuss is about. Overall, however, the TSX presents a clean, conservative look that many reviewers like. Inside, much of the same can be said, with a bevy of electronic features accenting the high-tech style. The basic styling elements are attractive and contemporary, with flowing, swoopy curves executed in pleasing materials and colors.

The 2010 TSX is an entry-level sedan, and according offers only one exterior styling package and one trim level per engine package. Many reviews of the four-cylinder model read by TheCarConnection.com like the TSX's design, with reviewers at Car and Driver feeling that the 2010 TSX delivers "far more road presence" than before, though the "new guillotine grille" is a more controversial feature. Cars.com likes the overall demeanor, calling it "sporty without going overboard." Exterior styling complaints from Automobile focus on the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, which they feel are "pretty dull." Edmunds' beef with the TSX concerns the dramatic exterior elements, including the grille, which, in their opinion, is trying to "mask an otherwise mundane sedan."

New additions for the 2010 V-6 model include dual outlet exhaust tips, split-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, and a revised front fascia. Motor Trend points out that even these upgrades are subtle, however, saying, "you'd be hard pressed to notice them." Autoblog agrees, noting there were "essentially no changes" from the four-cylinder model beyond the wheels and V-6 badging.

Though the Acura TSX's exterior is a mixed bag, according to the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the car's interior is generally well-received. Cars.com reviewers find the "tiered dashboard" attractive, while Car and Driver says the "arcing, undulating, fanning, multilayered, and inset sweeps of black, silver, and titanium-hued trim" might "give the eyes a workout," but still shine through as characteristically Acura. Complaints about interior design include a dash that is "awash with ... buttons," the quantity of which, according to Edmunds, "would make a 747 pilot feel at home." Swinging back the other way, ConsumerGuide likes the "clearly marked" controls and "large and quick to decipher" gauges.

8

2010 Acura TSX

Performance

The 2010 Acura TSX's V-6 adds some much-needed punch, and the car handles well for a front-wheel-drive car, but the imprecise steering is still an issue.

Acura's goal for the TSX is to offer a sporty alternative to cars like the Audi A4 and entry-level BMW 3-Series vehicles, and for good reason, handling performance has long been one of the big selling points among its younger target audience. While there are few improvements for the new 2010 Acura TSX, the performance positives from last year's model remain. Standard power for the 2010 TSX comes from a 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; the standard six-speed manual transmission definitely makes the car feel livelier, even though midrange torque has been boosted to increase responsiveness with the paddle-shifted Sequential SportShift five-speed automatic transmission. All new for 2010 is a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine option that delivers one of the few things the TSX previously lacked: power. Handling is still nimble and sporting, with a firm yet absorbent ride.

Reviews of the 2010 Acura TSX's four-cylinder engine range from "sufficient if not overabundant" amounts of power from the reviewers at Car and Driver to "surprisingly good low- and mid-range punch" from the normally conservative reviewers at ConsumerGuide. While some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com dislike the need to "let the engine rev high" to get the most out of it, Cars.com reviewers find that most don't mind pushing the car hard. The V-6, on the other hand, gets praise for being "surprisingly quiet" from Automobile. PopularMechanics simply says, "It's quick." Edmunds asserts "the V6 seems to make a huge difference" to the TSX's performance.

Buyers of the four-cylinder Acura TSX will have just one performance decision to make: manual or automatic transmission. The V-6 model is only available with a five-speed paddle-shifted auto. The four-pot is available with either six-speed manual or the same five-speed auto as the V-6. Edmunds finds that the manual in particular is a joy, though they also point out the automatic, paired with the V-6, can "hold a gear to redline while in Sport mode" and "doesn't get confused" like some autos can. Car and Driver reviewers find the six-speed manual to be "delightfully precise," and ConsumerGuide adds that "light shifter and clutch action" make the 2010 Acura TSX "very easy to drive," particularly in traffic. Automobile likes the 2010 TSX's "precise" gear changes and "perfectly weighted" clutch so much, it calls it the "industry standard."

As with most fun-to-drive cars, fuel economy is balanced against performance in the 2010 TSX. According to the EPA, it manages decent figures while also delivering good power, rated at 20/28 mpg for the four-cylinder manual, while the automatic boasts 21/30 mpg, numbers that Car and Driver finds to be "quite favorable." The V-6 is rated at a fairly close 18/27 mpg, which is especially good considering the extra 79 horsepower the engine offers.

Beyond the power and efficiency of the two available engines, the 2010 TSX also offers solid performance handling. ConsumerGuide likes the Acura TSX's ability to corner with "grippy assurance and little body lean," and Edmunds goes a step further, calling the TSX "one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars on sale." The V-6 may actually improve on the four-cylinder's formula-Edmunds says the V-6's "added weight over the four-cylinder settles the car a bit." Not everyone loves the TSX's steering, though, with Cars.com stating that one of its biggest quibbles with the "TSX is its steering feel and feedback." The problem? The electric power-steering system "doesn't offer very inspiring oncenter feel." Nevertheless, the TSX manages to redeem itself a bit with its brakes, which ConsumerGuide calls "drama-free" and Car and Driver deems "talented."

8

2010 Acura TSX

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Acura TSX is well-built with quality materials, but could still use some work on cabin noise.

Comfort and quality of the TSX aren't quite top-notch, but are right on par for the mid-size luxury sedan segment. Materials quality is high, and fit and finish can hardly be quibbled with, though rear legroom and seat comfort are frequent points of complaint. Even the front seats can prove too firm for some people. Cargo space, on the other hand, is good, with an ample trunk and plenty of in-cabin pockets and compartments. On this score, the four-cylinder and V-6 vehicles are identical.

The 2010 Acura TSX has the typical five seating positions, but front-seat passengers will find their conditions decidedly more comfortable than rear occupants. ConsumerGuide decrees that front-seat "legroom is good" but laments the fact that headroom is at a premium "beneath the sunroof housing." They like the "nicely bolstered" seats, despite the fact that they are a "bit too firm for ideal comfort." Nonetheless, those firm seats are helpful when tossing the Acura TSX through a curvy back road. Cars.com reviewers say "it's easy to find a good driving position" in the TSX's standard leather seats. They state that "the backseat isn't as comfortable," thanks in part to the "limited legroom." ConsumerGuide agrees, calling the lack of rear room "somewhat disappointing."

Cargo space is much better than the previous-generation TSX, thanks to its larger dimensions. ConsumerGuide notes that "storage pockets in all four doors" help make up for the "somewhat small glovebox and center console bins." The trunk, on the other hand, is fairly capacious, with Edmunds stating it "measures 12.6 cubic feet" in volume. Cars.com says it can also be expanded, thanks to the folding rear seats.

All reviews read by TheCarConnection.com commend materials quality and assembly on the Acura TSA. Edmunds says "materials are consistent with the rest of Acura's well-built line," though you won't find "a Lexus-like level of opulence"-just as you'd expect, with the further upmarket Acura TL more suited to battle with Lexus's offerings. ConsumerGuide mentions the TSX's "solid assembly quality" and points out the trim and plastic parts are "nicely textured."

The previous-generation Acura TSX was oft maligned for its high level of road noise. For the 2009 redesign, carried forward to 2010, Acura engineers take pains to reduce cabin noise, but some reviewers argue they may have gone too far, making other noises more prominent. Edmunds says the extra sound damping and more rigid structure "quiets things down on the freeway," but ConsumerGuide finds that the Acura TSX's engine "sounds loud and unrefined, particularly as its speed rises."

10

2010 Acura TSX

Safety

Five-star and Top Safety Pick crash ratings mean you can drive with confidence in your family's safety, but a standard backup camera would be a nice addition.

The 2010 Acura TSX comes with all the safety equipment of its peers, including front side airbags, side curtain airbags, vehicle stability assist, active head restraints, and three-point seat belts for all five seating positions. The TSX earns a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and five-star ratings in every category from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

For 2010, Acura earns NHTSA's highest rating of five stars for the TSX in front and side impact tests for both passengers and driver. IIHS results also give the 2009 Acura TSX top marks, scoring "good" for both frontal offset and side impact tests. In fact, the IIHS finds the Acura TSX's survivability good enough to award the 2009 model a Top Safety Pick; the 2010 model is not yet rated by the IIHS, but it's essentially identical to the 2009 model. The high crash ratings are in part due to Acura's "Advanced Compatibility Engineering body technology," which Cars.com says ensures the "car's crumple zones are fully utilized."

Beyond top-notch crash-test scores, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2010 Acura TSX also comes with a strong array of standard safety gear. Standard gear includes anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control, and traction control, as well as front, side, and full-length side-curtain airbags. Cars.com points out the TSX's "active head restraints for the front seats" and "backup camera" that comes with the "optional navigation system." Upgrading to the optional navigation system gets you a backup camera, helping to compensate for outside mirrors that are "on the small side," according to ConsumerGuide.

10

2010 Acura TSX

Features

Despite the extensive standard feature set, the Technology Package is well worth the price, especially in light of the excellent upgraded audio system.

Acura has built its brand around the incredible number of cool high-tech features offered inside its vehicles. For the 2010 Acura TSX, Acura spares nothing and even comes with virtually all the features as standard equipment. Standard features include dual-zone climate control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a premium 7-speaker sound system with subwoofer and XM Satellite Radio capability. The optional navigation system offers real-time traffic and dynamic rerouting capability to direct you around hazards and congestion when possible. A 10-speaker, 415-watt sound system is also available, along with a six-disc CD changer in the Technology Package.

Cars.com concisely describes the Acura TSX's standard feature list as "long." It includes, in addition to the features listed above, "heated front seats, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, [and] a power moonroof." Jalopnik likes the TSX's "really easy-to-use standard USB port" that makes it easy to hook up an MP3 player to the standard 7-speaker stereo. ConsumerGuide adds that standard "satellite radio" and "leather upholstery" are also included in the base price.

Thanks to its extensive standard feature list, there is only one option: the Technology Package. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com universally praise the upgrade despite a sticker price of around $3,100. Automobile points out that the package "bundles a state-of-the-art navigation system featuring traffic and weather reports." Car and Driver finds the traffic and weather portions of the system especially interesting, noting that it can even give you "the atmospheric conditions at your programmed destination." Jalopnik focuses on the "killer ...10-speaker sound system" that Edmunds calls "one of the best factory stereos available." Edmunds likes the stereo so much, it says "it's a solid justification for the pricey tech pack" all by itself.

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8.8
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Styling 8.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
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Features 10.0
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